Upgrades for 700,000 BT customers and BT Halo converged services to launch
The big news today for existing BT Consumer customers if you have not already elected to self-upgrade to one of the VDSL2 (FTTC partial fibre) or FTTP (full fibre) products when available is that some 700,000 such customers will be upgraded from their ADSL/ADSL2+ services by June 2020 and at no extra charge, i.e. no increase in monthly fee or any setup cost. Also where FTTC/FTTP is available new customers will not be offered ADSL/ADSL2+ to buy, i.e. a stop sell will be put in place.
This change is one of a number of changes from BT aimed at positioning itself as treating customers both consumer and business fairly and also preparing the way for the changes expected in the next decade which will see a big shift to digital voice and an explosion of connected devices in the home.
- BT 5G service to launch on Friday 11th October with BT Plus/Halo customers being the first to upgrade.
- BT Plus is upgrading to BT Halo after the success that has seen 1 million customers sign up to a BT Plus package.
- BT Halo will be available in November 2019 offering converged high definition voice, broadband, unlimited data at home and on the go, 5G access and unlimited voice.
- 900 Home Tech experts to help with digital technology in the home and workplace. BT Halo customers will get one free visit as part of their package.
- BT brand back on the high street at over 600 stores, both support and sales.
- Plan returning call centres to UK and Ireland from overseas will complete early; now January 2020 rather than December 2020. Map shown at press conference indicated Ireland means Northern Ireland.
- Regional call routing when you ring support, so you will be connected to an agent in your region if one is available.
- Skills for Tomorrow programme, which is a mixture of online and community training for all ages. A key aim being to provide digital skills training for 10 million school children.
- New full fibre plans in November (we presume a price restructure and introduction of 500 Mbps and a Gigabit package).
Our understanding is the copper to partial or full fibre upgrade will be onto an entry level 40/10 service, so while the press release talks of the average speeds of these people moving from 10 Mbps to 50 Mbps for those upgraded onto VDSL2/FTTC the speeds will very much depend on the distance to the cabinet. Not all ADSL/ADSL2+ BT customers have a full or partial fibre option yet, the Openreach partial/full fibre network covers 93.9% of UK premises but once you filter to deliver superfast speeds this drops to 91%. These numbers taken from our coverage analysis back up the statement in the press release "BT will stop selling standard broadband connections on the legacy BT copper network to 90% of the UK".
Not all people who can get a VDSL2 connection will get superfast speeds, but for those where the VDSL2 should provide a speed improvement we presume BT Consumer will go ahead with an upgrade. Questions arise of course whether people will be tied into a new contract term after the upgrade, which means some who are waiting on alternate providers building FTTP locally will need to double check this before agreeing to the upgrade. For existing ADSL/ADSL2+ customers who are out of contract, we presume that as the BT Essential 40/10 service is probably a lower price per month than a good number pay that some may actually see a price cut.
The high definition voice is part of the move away from the old PSTN network which now has a finite end point of 2025, therefore getting a large proportion of the customer base moved across well before any full migration plans are implemented by Openreach.
While there is no doubt that improved digital skills to prepare children for the modern world are important and plans to deliver digital skills and computing training to 3 million more children by 2025 are welcome, there is a wider question of why the private sector is delivering what should be seen as part of any modern 21st century curriculum.